While things have appeared quiet in the GP2 paddock lately, business looks to be picking up as we hit the mid-point of February, with a pair of news items being released recently.
Matsushita Named as First ART GP2 Driver
Honda junior driver and McLaren Formula 1 development driver Nobuharu Matsushita will spend a third season in GP2 in 2017, the Japanese manufacturer confirmed in a YouTube livestream.
The Japanese driver will drive their No. 7 car, piloting the first of their two cars for the second season in a row.
Matsushita, 23, has made 41 starts in the series over two seasons, with two wins in Hungarian and Monaco sprint races in 2015 and 2016.
His most high-profile moment as a driver came went he was banned for the Austrian round of the 2016 season after weaving under the safety car while leading the Baku sprint race before crashing out.
He is set to run in his 50th GP2 event at the feature race of the Austrian round this year. It will be the first time in ART’s history that a driver has competed in three separate seasons for the team.
Matsushita may be under pressure to perform in 2017 after finishing behind his team-mates in previous years. Stoffel Vandoorne won the title in 2015 while sharing the garage with him, while Sergey Sirotkin finished third in the standings ahead of11th-placed Matsushita last season.
His team-mate is yet to be announced, but it is heavily rumored that former ART GP3 driver Alex Albon will graduate to the series to partner the Japanese driver after taking part in post-season testing in Abu Dhabi in December.
GASLY’S TEAM CONFIRMED
Meanwhile, 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly will drive a Team Mugen car in Super Formula this year.
It has been known for some time that he would be making the switch to the Japanese series as he temporarily continues his career away from the Formula 1 feeder series, but Honda finally announced the team and car he will pilot, sitting at the wheel of Mugen’s No. 15 machine.
The Frenchman will partner 2013 series champion, Naoki Yamamoto, with the Japanese driver racing at the team for the seventh year. It is the first time that they will run two cars in a season of the championship since Yuhki Nakayama and Yamamoto drove together in 2014.
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